Diocesan College

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about Diocesan College (Bishops) in Cape Town, South Africa. For the school in Quebec, see Bishop's College School.
Diocesan College (Bishops)
Diocesan college bishops crest.png
Motto Pro Fide Et Patria
Established 1849
Type All-Boys Independent College School
Affiliation Anglican, HMC, ISASA
Principal Mr Guy Pearson
Founder The Rt Revd Robert Gray, Bishop of Cape Town
Chaplain Fr Terry Wilke
Grades PreK - 13
Location Camp Ground Road, Rondebosch, 7700,
Cape Town, South Africa
Colours Navy and light Blue
Fees (2014) R 96 360 (tuition)
R 168 140 (tuition & boarding)
Website www.bishops.org.za

The Diocesan College, or Bishops as it is more commonly known, is an independent, all-boys school situated in the suburb of Rondebosch in Cape Town, South Africa. The school was established in 1849 by Robert Gray, Bishop of Cape Town.


The institution consists of three schools: the college for grades 8 – 12 and post matriculation (an optional year following grade 12 which covers the A-levels); the preparatory school for grades 3 – 7, and the pre-preparatory school for grades 0-2.

The college is situated in Campground Road at the main campus, and a small portion of this land is used for the pre-preparatory school. The Preparatory School is situated in Fir Road, Rondebosch close to the College campus.

The college has eight houses: Founders, School and White are the boarding houses, and Birt, Gray, Kidd, Mallett and Ogilvie are for day-scholars. Each house has about 70 to 100 students. The preparatory school has four houses: Van der Bijl (for boarders and day-boys), Bramley, Brooke and Charlton.


The Collegiate of the Diocese of Cape Town (hence the name Diocesan College) was founded by Bishop Robert Gray, the first Anglican bishop of Cape Town, in 1849 at his house, Bishopscourt in Cape Town.[1] He founded two schools there, one of which was described as for the "native children" and the other for "European children" (this being the current school). Living with schools was hard for the bishop and this led him to establish the schools elsewhere. The black children moved to accommodation near the city, where Zonnebloem College now is. This movement left the bishop short of money and so he bought an unproductive farm in Campground Road, Rondebosch, to which the school was moved and on which it remains.[citation needed]

The school did not prosper until Canon George Ogilvie arrived from prosperous St. George's Grammar School, attached to St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town in the city. The canon brought some boys with him and the bishop's school flourished. It then became the Diocesan College, but that too was a mouthful and it was generally referred to as the Bishop's school – hence its nickname. On arriving at Bishops, Canon Ogilvie brought an early adoption of the game of rugby to the school which is noted as the introduction of rugby to South Africa.[citation needed]

Originally the school catered mainly for boarders, but since the 1970s it has had more day scholars than boarders. For some years it ran university classes, but in 1910[chronology citation needed] those classes left for the South African College, which was later to become the University of Cape Town.[citation needed]

The school had only three principals between 1919 and 1982[chronology citation needed] – Harold Birt, Hubert Kidd, the first layman to be the principal, and Anthony Mallett. Since then it has had three more.

Since 1921,[chronology citation needed] a post matric year has offered students the opportunity to write the University of Cambridge A-Level examinations. In recent times, girls have been admitted to this year.


Bishops Senior Certificate Results over the last twelve years

YEAR 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Candidates 133 128 140 136 143 140 142 139 147 148 152 149
A Aggreg 58 62 66 56 71 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Exemptions 128 127 139 133 141 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Cond Ex 2 n/a 1 3 2 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Other 3 1 0 0 0 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Fail 0 0 0 0 0 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Subj Distinctions 267 290 280 289 320 338 344 358 385 367 491 544
Dist per boy 2,01 2,27 2,00 2,13 2,24 2,41 2,44 2,58 2,62 2,48 3,23 3,65
 % A Aggs 46,6 49,0 47,1 41,2 49,7 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
 % Bachelor 96,2 99,2 99,3 97,8 98,6 97,8 95,8 99,3 97,3 96,6 98,7 99,3
 % Passed 100 99,2 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

Leavers write the Western Cape Education Department examinations, most private schools in South Africa write the Independent Examination Board school leaving exams.

School scholarships[edit]

The College offers numerous scholarships, mostly to new students in grade 8 which last until grade 12.

  • The Bishops Scholarship for all-rounders
  • The Theron Scholarship for academic excellence
  • One Major and two Minor scholarships for academic excellence in each of the three subjects of Mathematics, Science, and English, each of which has a separate scholarship examination which must be written by prospective students
  • One Major and two Minor scholarships for musical proficiency, for which prospective students are required to play an audition
  • The Claude Brown Organ Scholarship is for organists who wish to enter a post-matric year at the College. They are expected to contribute to the active musical life of the College chapels, and act as assistant organist to the Director of Music
  • The Bishops Rugby Scholarship which is awarded to a grade 10 boy who excels in rugby

The school also awards bursaries. These include:

  • Bursaries for the sons of Old Diocesans, so that needy students can attend the school.
  • Bursaries and remissions so that diversity targets can be met.
  • A two-thirds remission for sons of the Anglican clergy.[citation needed]

Rhodes Scholarship[edit]

Bishops is one of only four schools in the world to offer an annual Rhodes scholarship since 1901 to an ex-pupil to attend the University of Oxford. This is a result of the school having been part of the initial Rhodes Scholarship Experiment. When approached to help formulate the plan for the scholarship, Bishops was suggested by Mr Ernest Kilpin (later Sir Ernest, after he was knighted for services to the Union of South Africa) as a suitable school for the experiment and Cecil Rhodes agreed. Like Bishops' founder Robert Gray, he mistrusted purely secular education..[2]

Uniform and Awards[edit]

Boys in uniform.

Bishops College has two uniforms: Formal dress known as "Number Ones", and lighter khaki dress known as "Khakis". Number Ones are worn on all formal occasions such as start-, mid- and end-of-term Eucharists, Evensong, Eisteddfod Night, derby 1st team matches, and other special events. While most other schools have an official changeover from summer uniform to winter uniform, College boys are allowed to wear either Number Ones or Khakis at their leisure, excepting the above circumstances where Number Ones are required. Boys are not, however, allowed to "mix and match", but must instead wear one complete uniform set, excepting the instance where grade 11s and 12s may wear a white shirt with their khakis.[citation needed]


Preparatory students may only wear a standard-issue tie, which is dark blue with thin horizontal light blue stripes. The College students have a different regulation tie, dark blue with mitres, and each House has its own tie. Various ties are awarded, such as an Academic Tie (for a student who has achieved an aggregate of 80% thrice), an All-Rounders Tie (works on a points-system) or the Distinction Tie (for an exceptional achievement usually representation at an International Event). All members of the vote-in societies (Forum and Ten Club), members of the Students Representative Forum, the Public Relations Group and senior members of ensembles have their own ties. Ties are also awarded for service or for attending the school for thirteen years. Special ties (such as tour or exchange ties) may be worn on Fridays. The sheer number and diversity of ties at Bishops has entered the school's popular culture, especially as there is no formalised list of all the ties that may be worn at school.[citation needed]


Excellence in a specific school activity is rewarded with colours, which are small embroidered badges sewn onto a boy's blazer beneath the mitre, displaying initials representing the activity. Colours represent a high level of skill and proficiency, commitment to the activity, and service and leadership, though every colours award has its own specific criteria. Colours are awarded for every school sport, as well as for music, visual arts, drama, and academics. Boys are initially awarded half colours, where only the initial colours patch is awarded, and then may later earn full colours, where a "D.C." patch is affixed before the previous one, and the boy will then have earned the right to wear a colours jersey (see below).[citation needed]


In addition to the normal plain dark blue school jersey, there are award jerseys which boys may only wear once they have earned them. A white jersey is worn when the student has achieved full colours in a discipline excepting academics. A dark blue jersey is worn when a boy achieves full colours for academics, and these jerseys are significantly prized due to their rarity. In the past, a light blue Cadets jersey was also awarded, but this has since been discontinued at the closure of the Cadets programme.[citation needed]

Exchange Programme[edit]

Bishops has an ‘exchange relationship’ with a number of schools around the world – schools in North and South America, the United Kingdom, Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand.


Bishops currently offers the following sports:

  • Winter Sports
    • Cross Country
    • First Aid
    • Golf
    • Hockey (Field)
    • Mountain Biking
    • Rugby
    • Squash
  • Summer Sports
    • Athletics (Track and Field)
    • Basketball
    • Canoeing
    • Climbing
    • Cricket
    • Karate
    • Shooting
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Waterpolo
    • Weights
  • Year-Round Sports
    • Fencing
    • Fitness Challenge
    • Rowing
    • Sailing
    • Surfing

Bishops has also offered the following sports in the past:[3]

  • Boxing (ended 1970)
  • Fives (ended 1921)
  • Gymnastics

Bishops was the first school in South Africa and in the southern hemisphere to start playing rugby,[4] and the main Piley Rees field is the oldest rugby field in South Africa[citation needed]. The school offers many sports; but the focus is on rugby union and cricket.

Over 20 sports matches are played on a weekly basis against schools in and around Cape Town. Many friendly rivalries have emerged, most notably against the nearby South African College School (SACS), and Rondebosch Boys' High School.

Beginning in 1892, the annual Bishops versus SACS rugby match is considered the oldest in Africa, although the keenest rivalry is often considered to be against Rondebosch Boys' High School. A match against Rondebosch is played twice per year in every sport.[citation needed]


The Eisteddfod Owl.

Music and the arts is an impotent part of the curriculum. Bishops also holds the Bishops Classic Pops every three years in the Cape Town City Hall. The school has two very fine organs (and a smaller chamber organ) in its chapels. In addition, the music department has launched three CDs: Choral Vespers (a recording of the evening service), Tour to Russia (a compilation of repertoire taken to Russia by the Choir and Brass Band in April 2006) and Composers of Bishops (a compilation of compositions by Bishops boys over the past four years).[citation needed]

A number of musical ensembles exist within the school, including: the orchestra, a choir, a windband, a brass band, a pipe band, a jazz band and a percussion ensemble.

"Termly" Societies[edit]

These society meetings take the form of evening meetings once or twice a quarter, where a guest speaker comes in to speak on a topic relevant to the interests of the society. This guest speaker may be an expert or an old hand in his or her field, but can also be a teacher or an older relative of one of the boys. It is usually the responsibility of the society's president and the Master-in-Charge to secure a guest speaker.

  • African Languages
  • Astronomy
  • Democritus Science
  • History Society
  • International Society (travel)
  • Lingua Franca (politics, philosophy, current affairs)
  • Philosophy Society

Student-Run Societies[edit]

These societies focus more on getting the students to take the initiative and provide material for the society to work with themselves. Often they may involve occasional presentations by senior members, but they are mostly centered around discussion and debate.

  • GIN (Global Issues Network): This society aims to tackle environmental and social issues that Bishops students can identify with and aid with in the community. Many issues-based charity initiatives and excellent Science Expo projects have flourished with support from the GIN.
  • Historical Bench: This society aims to get students involved in discussion and debate on history and current affairs topics themselves, without feeling the need to require expert knowledge. The president presents the members with a short presentation and a topic for discussion, but other members can chair meetings at their request.
  • Public Speaking is aimed at students who wish to develop their public speaking skills, it is a slightly more informal society based around formal presentation. It has a very interactive approach to its meetings, focusing on the four main disciplines of reading, prepared speaking, debating, and impromptu speaking. Bishops regularly sends a team to the annual South African National Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships, and is well known for producing numerous high-ranking national champion public speakers.

Other Societies[edit]

  • The Debating Club is extremely prominent, and has a history of producing Provincial champion teams and individual debaters. It is a very engaging society, with weekly meetings, coaching sessions, and a grade 8 and 9 internal league, all done in World Schools format. It is rumoured that every Head of School at Bishops had been a member of the debating society some time in his school career.
  • BAK! is the Bishops Afrikaanse Klub.
  • The Drama Society aims to expose students who may not necessarily be featured actors in the school's productions to the world of the stage through drama workshops run by various outsourced professional dramatists.
  • Impact is the Christian Union.
  • Interact does community outreach.

Invitation-only societies[edit]

  • The Forum is essentially a humanities-based "coke-and-doughnut" society, the guest speakers are always high-profile, presenting on highly intellectual topics. Members are elected by the Chairman and the Master-in-Charge, and receive a unique tie upon their election.
  • The Ten Club as the name suggests, is made up of only ten members in grade 12, five of whom are the top-achieving academics and five whom are voted in by the previous Ten Club members. At each meeting, two of the members give a presentation on an intellectual and interesting topic of their choice. Only the members themselves are allowed to attend the meetings, and the headmaster attends as an observer. Members of the Ten Club receive a unique tie upon their election.


The Bishops Eisteddfod is the greatest cultural event in the calendar.[according to whom?]


Bishops is an Anglican school, and maintains traditional links with the Diocese of Cape Town. Chapel services held three times a week and once a term evensong takes place. The college has two chapels, both central to life at Bishops. The older and smaller Brooke Chapel is used for more intimate services, while the bigger War Memorial Chapel was built in memory of the Bishops boys who died in service in World War I and is used for daily and Sunday services. A total of 112 Bishops old boys were killed in World War I.[5] In 2007, the school was used as the venue for the electoral college for the election of the new Archbishop of Cape Town, the metropolitan and primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

Activities week[edit]

Activities Week is a week in which all the boys, after their November exams, participate in a camp - usually between 4 to 7 days long. Each grade (with the exception of Grades 10 & 12) have their own "set" of camps from which they can choose from. Activities range from going on the Orange River to skydiving and hiking. Grade 10s participate in the Bishops Epic, a two-week-long adventure in the Cederberg Mountains, where special emphasis is put on surviving on the skills and talents of those in your group. During this two-week-long camp the boys are required to partake in a 24 Hour long "solo where they may not make any contact with other students. The aim of these camps is to get boys out of their comfort zone so that they can learn important life skills.

Relationships With Other Schools[edit]

Bishops is a member of the G20 Schools Group, a collection of college, preparatory and boarding schools from around the world including, Eton College the United States's Phillips Exeter Academy, Australia's Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College, and Switzerland's International School of Geneva. Bishops is also a member of the unofficial Elite Seven schools of South Africa. The College also boasts an International Exchange Programme with schools all over the world, with over 30 exchanges taking place annually.



In March 2000 five matric boarders were expelled having been found guilty of beating about twenty Grade 9 and Grade 10 students in a hazing 'raid'. Fourteen months prior two boys were also victims of hazing. The school has publically committed to eradicating the cuture of bullying at the school.[6]

Old Diocesans[edit]

Notable alumni include:


Scientists and academics[edit]


Soldiers, sailors and airmen[edit]


Politicians and nobility[edit]

Rugby Players[edit]



See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Hermitage Day 1930.
  2. ^ McIntyre 1950.
  3. ^ Gardener 1997, p. 181.
  4. ^ First SA School at community-rugby.com Accessed August 2007
  5. ^ Lambert 2004.
  6. ^ Murray Williams (24 March 2000). "Boys expelled from Bishops for bullying". IOL News. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "A builder of others' dreams", Mail & Guardian, 7 – 13 February 1997, page 27.
  8. ^ Creamer 2005.
  9. ^ Kawamoto 2010.
  10. ^ Sir Edmund Hakewill-Smith at SA Military History
  11. ^ South African Military History Society: Stradford Edward St Leger
  12. ^ Herschelle Gibbs at Cricinfo accessed August 11th 2007
  13. ^ Adrian Kuiper at Cricinfo accessed August 11th 2007
  14. ^ Tuppy Owen-Smith at Cricinfo accessed August 12th 2007

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°57′50″S 18°28′53″E / 33.96389°S 18.48139°E / -33.96389; 18.48139